Moving to Spain? What’s the Cost of Living Like? Is it Cheap to Live There?


Food is cheaper at supermarkets in Spain


We often get people asking us, how cheap is it to actually live in Spain? Is it really cheap? Have prices gone up? Is living in Spain as cheap as you expected it to be, or are you surprised by the expense of it all?

For us, who’ve lived in a few other countries besides Spain (Thailand, the UK, Malaysia etc), we’ve found Spain to be, overall, cheaper than many other countries we’ve travelled or lived in.  Regardless that many expats here (and it always seems to be the British), complain about how expensive things have become.

Beer and wine is cheap in Spain, eating out is relatively inexpensive, electricity, gas and water are about the same price as the UK, and shoes and clothing (particularly on Spanish markets) are very cheap.

Surprisingly too, we realized recently on our last trip to Thailand this year that, in many cases, things in Spain that we pay for just about daily (supermarket food, shopping at markets, cafe con leches, meals at average restaurants etc) were as cheap or, in many cases, cheaper than Thailand – a country that used to be cheap, but isn’t any longer.

The two thing we will say though that are expensive in Spain is apartment or house rent and electronics. Compared to what we’ve paid in other countries, rent in an average apartment in Spain is at least 2-3 times more expensive for a similar size apartment, and buying any electronics items (TV, computer, coffee maker etc), is 25-40% more expensive than anywhere in Asia or North America.

And…to this we must also add, Spanish salaries. Overall, Spanish salaries are pathetically low compared to most other countries in Europe and the United States. Which means, if you come to Spain with a salary from another country, as we did, or with a pretty solid retirement income, living in Spain can be cheap.

If, however, you’ll be living in Spain on a Spanish salary, don’t be surprised if some of the every day things you bought back in the UK, the US or the Netherlands are as expensive or more so here.

So, if you’re planning on living in Spain and want to know about the cost of living, look at it this way. If you’re willing to live in a smaller-sized apartment, buy Spanish food at the supermarkets (which is delicious and fresh) and little of the imported stuff from back home, and eat at lower end restaurants (which still serve amazing food), and don’t buy that many high-end electroncis, you can live cheaply in Spain.

Plus, living in a ‘Spanish area’ instead of a ‘Tourist area’ and we still think you’ll find living in Spain is cheaper than just about any other developed country you’re coming from.  No matter what the whinging British say.

This interesting video from the British Consulate will also give you a little bit more of an idea about moving to Spain and what your experience might be like, including a few tips on what you need to do before you get there.